30. Department of State Position Paper1


(For discussion with Mr. Evelyn Shuckburgh, of the United Kingdom, January 19, 1956)

Recommended U.S. Position

General Views on North Africa

The following points should be prefaced by an explanation that they represent our frankest view of the situation and that while our general attitude is well known to the French, we have not as yet spelled it all out in this fashion to them.

1. The United States is convinced that all parts of North Africa are moving, at varying rates of speed, toward independence. The emergence of self-governing states in the area will give rise, as in other areas, to a power vacuum, into which the Soviet Union will inevitably try to move, directly or through the intermediary of Arab states, especially Egypt which has definite ambitions for leadership of North Africa.

2. We believe that the Western powers must therefore move rapidly to counteract those influences and to fill the vacuum with Western influence. This means encouragement and backing for the moderate, pro-Western nationalist leadership in Morocco and Tunisia. [Page 113] Such leadership may emerge later in Algeria when the French are ready to work out a new federal status for that country.

3. We believe that we should, principally through diplomatic means, enjoin upon the French, on every suitable occasion, the necessity for continuing liberal concessions in the direction of independence in Morocco and Tunisia in order that moderate pro-Western leadership may retain its popular following.

4. In expressing views on Algeria to the French we shall have to proceed with greater circumspection. We are convinced that the formula of integration is no longer workable and will probably have to give way to a formula for federation with France. We note that the British Government shares this view. Both governments, however, appear to recognize that exclusive responsibility for evolution of Algeria lies at present with France, whose own territory is involved. Like the British we have assisted the French in purchasing helicopters, but feel that ultimately a political rather than a military solution will be necessary in Algeria.

Concrete Proposals

5. In carrying out the above policy the United States hopes to be of assistance to the French and the peoples of North Africa in a number of concrete ways. These are listed here and discussed in greater length in the attached paper.2 (AF believes that these points should at least be mentioned. If time does not permit further examination, we could discuss them later with the British in Washington and in London, though it should be made clear that none of them, except (1) under Morocco, has been discussed with the French.)

A. In Morocco

Maintain contacts with Moroccan leaders in order to offer practical advice and counsel of moderation as needed, especially during forthcoming Franco-Moroccan negotiations.
Develop programs for possible technical and economic assistance, subject to French sensibilities and domestic considerations in the United States on foreign aid in general.
Seek ways in which to make available to Morocco sound technical, economic and financial advice, perhaps from members of international organizations such as IMF, whose political motivation would be beyond question.
Provide diplomatic support, as appropriate, for liberal French efforts to work out the future status of Morocco. Chief capitals would be Tripoli, Madrid, and, to the extent possible, in Cairo.
Stand ready to examine with other Algeciras powers3 (exclusive of USSR) the effects on their position, and on ours, of imminent modification or abrogation of Treaty of Fez.4 France has indicated she desires such consultations with United States and U.K. We are inclined to believe we should make no definite commitment on our Algeciras rights until the course of the Franco-Moroccan negotiations becomes clearer.
Examine with other powers now on Tangier Committee of Control ways of retaining international influence in the Zone when it becomes integrated into Morocco.
We should not raise with the British the question of terminating our extraterritorial rights in Morocco, since we have not informed the French. Should the British raise the point, we could reply that the matter was under study and that we would inform the British of any decision we might take in the matter.

B. In Tunisia

The overt split between the pro-Western Bourguiba moderates and the Cairo-oriented Salah ben Youssef extremists is disquieting. We have indicated publicly our support for the approach represented by Bourguiba and the Franco-Tunisian Conventions of 1955. The lack of direct United States interests and treaty relationships with Tunisia makes it more difficult to discover ways of being helpful than in Morocco. However, we are considering:

Possibility of economic assistance, subject again to French sensitivity and general United States domestic considerations.
Possible diplomatic opposition to Egyptian encouragement of Tunisian extremism.

C. Algeria

See above (No. 4 under general views on North Africa).

Probable British Position

It is not believed that the British will display any fundamental opposition to the views expressed above, though they may express [Page 115] some reticence as to the advisability of intervening directly with the French.5

N.B.: It would be inadvisable to mention US–UK discussions of French North Africa in any communiqué in connection with the Shuckburgh or Eden talks.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 751S.00/1–1756. Secret. Drafted by Bovey as an attachment to a memorandum of conversation by Hadsel, January 17. The purpose of the meeting was to allow Ambassador Dillon and Assistant Secretary Allen to read and discuss the position paper, with which they essentially agreed.
  2. Attachment omitted. [Footnote in the source text.]
  3. Reference is to the European powers who together with the United States, signed the Act of Algeciras of April 7, 1906.
  4. The Treaty of Fez of March 30, 1912, established the French protectorate over Morocco. See British and Foreign State Papers, vol. 106, p. 1023.
  5. At the January 19 meeting, Rountree presented U.S. views, adhering closely to this paper. Shuckburgh replied that his government wished France to retain as much influence in the area as possible. (Memorandum of conversation by Bovey, January 19; Department of State, WE Files: Lot 58 D 90, Middle East—1954–57)